Community groups supporting Scotland’s kinship carers are being celebrated during this year’s Kinship Care Week.

With a theme of Connecting Kinship Carers, the week aims to raise awareness of the peer groups that offer help, advice and emotional support to those who look after the child of a relative or friend.

Organisers the Kinship Advice Service for Scotland (KCASS) have spent the past year visiting groups up and down the country to hear first-hand how valuable their support can be. In many cases, the kinship carers we spoke to described their local group as a “lifeline”, enabling them to connect and share experiences with other carers. One carer told us: “In the support groups, members truly understand what you are going through, and can share the type of practical insights that can only come from first-hand experience.”

There are thought to be upwards of 65 such groups across Scotland, but KCASS say some regions still do not have a group, meaning kinship carers in those areas are missing out on invaluable peer support. The charity is now calling on local authorities to offer support to agencies and carers in those areas who wish to set up their own groups.

Susan Hunter, KCASS project coordinator, said: “Kinship carers tell us that meeting and talking with other carers who understand what they are going through is a lifeline they benefit from continually. These peer support groups help kinship carers by reducing loneliness and isolation, receiving mutual sharing of knowledge and experiences of kinship care, while establishing friendships, having a laugh and sometimes tears in a safe space.

“This year, our communities officer has been fortunate to visit groups throughout Scotland, meeting and listening to kinship carers who tell us how necessary these groups are. They also say that in areas with no groups operating, there should be support for local agencies or for kinship carers to establish a much-needed support group.

“This Kinship Care Week, KCASS are encouraging kinship care groups to take part in their own local community and celebrate their kinship families where children are loved, safe and happy. They can do this by running small or large events, having some fun and encouraging other kinship carers to come along and reap the many benefits of being part of these marvellous groups.”

Clare Haughey, minister for children and young people, said: “Kinship Care Week provides us with an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the important role our kinship carers play in providing loving, secure, stable and nurturing homes for children and young people.

“The support local care groups provide to our kinship families is not only a safe space for carers, it also creates a safe environment for children and young people to connect with their peers who may have similar experiences.

“I would like to commend the kinship carers who form part of the KCASS advisory group, who also work hard to influence the work of KCASS to ensure the service it delivers is tailored to those with lived experiences.”

Kinship Care Week runs from March 13-17. A full programme of events can be found here: